Monday, May 20, 2019

What is the role of human intellect in QA? Is it still required?

This is in continuation of my last post on conversation with a dear friend of mine Ashok Thiruvengadam (founder and CEO of Stag Software). Ashok had reached out to record a video on the theme of  “Reinventing yourself in these changing times

[Ashok] What is the role of human intellect in QA? Is it still required?

[Anuj] I would like to answer this with an analogy. There is often a certain kind of mystique associated with playing chess in it's correlation with intellect. People often consider those playing chess as the one having abundance of wisdom.

There's a book written by Chess legend Gary Kasparov called as Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins. In a particular portion in this book, he captures
his journey as a chess player in relation to the advances in technology. Unlike most of his fellow chess players, he was one of this first (I think he was the first!) Chess players to play a computer at the public stage. I think it was in 1983 or somewhere around that time. In that series, he managed to comfortably beat the computer. That kind of proved that humans are still superior to machines.

Kasparov continued his quest to prove his supremacy over machines by playing occasional public matches.

Come 1998 or 1999, things were changing with machines evolving at a faster pace. Around this time, Kasparov played and lost for the first time in public against IBMs Deep Blue computer. After this match, people started writing obituaries not only for Kasparov's supremacy but also for Chess as a sport.
Fast forward to 2 decades from the time Kasparov lost, now we have a Chess Champion from Norway- Magnus Carlson. His consistency over the years have prompted many Chess experts to comment that he may be the greatest Chess player of all time. So, Chess not only survived this turbulent phase but even produced a champion that is winning everything that the game has to offer. Magnus is know to leverage computers to help him improve his skills as a Chess player.
If you take a moment and rewind these sequence of events, it can be summarized as:
First humans fought the machines to prove their dominance.
Next phase, the machines evolved in power and skill and eventually beat the humans.
Later phase, humans found a way to coexist with the machines and learned to leverage them to augment and enhance it's own intelligence.

I do foresee the same sequence play out in a lot of other professions as well. Automation would eventually return more time for human beings. It's up to the humans to figure out how to use this time to make them better.

So the role of human intellect is greater than ever in this dynamic phase.
For the QA profession to evolve, it has to be seen as a mindset more than a department. In my belief, QA as a mindset will never get extinct but the QA as a department may get overhauled with the changes happening all around us.

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